Rowing is an incredible sport for many reasons: it is a great way to gain cardiovascular fitness, builds full body muscle strength, promotes weight loss and reduces stress. But due to the nature of rowing, it is also closely associated with a number of injuries. Most rowing injuries are related to overloading and poor biomechanics that can be due to incorrect technique, lack of experience and changing sides that the oar is on (if using a sweep boat).

Why technique is so important: 

The rowing stroke is a continuous cycle that is divided into the catch, drive, finish and the recovery. The drive requires the rower to sequentially use their legs, followed by body and then arms while the recovery sequence is the reverse. Incorrect technique can therefore lead to overuse injuries as the rower is repeating incorrect movement patterns. For example, poor technique through the recovery such as lunging too far forward at the catch can put rowers in risk of shoulder and back injuries. While poor technique at the finish such as hunching through the shoulders and leaning too far back can increase pressure through spinal discs.

Common injury sites for rowers:

  • Wrist and hand
  • Forearm
  • Shoulder
  • Rib stress fractures
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Back

How to reduce/prevent injury from rowing: 

  • Maintain correct technique
  • Good general health
  • Make sure you warm up sufficiently
  • Stretch afterwards – particularly hamstring and hip flexor muscle groups
  • Improve posture both during rowing and during study or work

Immediate management for your rowing injury: 

  • Stop what you are doing, rowing through pain can make your injury worse!
  • For soft tissue injuries use RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) until you have the opportunity to see a healthcare professional.
  • Seek treatment from a health care professional as soon as possible. Early management will help your condition heal quicker and reduce your time spent away from rowing.
  • Correct any technique errors prior to graded return to rowing.
  • If you are experiencing discomfort in your chest and suspect a rib stress fracture in line with the Rowing Australia guidelines, 4 days of no water training is highly recommended.


At CSSM we are able to assess and treat your rowing injuries as well as use our software to analyse your technique using the ergometer.



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